Sunday, June 19, 2016

Ten Irish Ancestors

Reprinted from my old South City blog. My brother Ian sent me a youtube video by the Dropkick Murphys that got me thinking about my Irish again this week.

1. James Donnelly and his four sisters: Mary, Bridget, Honora, and Margaret. Born 1825 in County Tyrone, married Sarah Cody in 1850 in Rome, New York. Bridget, his sister, married a Blake. Just to keep us all on our toes--this is on the other side of my family.

2. Edward D. Blake, not to be confused with his father Edward Blake or his son Edward R. Blake or his grandson Edward J. Blake. Edward, known as Ned when he was a child, was born in Kansas City. Raised there at first by his parents (Edward and Bridget) and then by his Aunt Ellen and Uncle Pat, along with his brother Richard. After his father dies, he moves to St. Louis--perhaps to be closer to his mother? I wish I knew. There he starts working as a bricklayer, and gets in good with the union leaders, especially Charles and Henry Daniel Dawes. He meets their sister, Jennie, who is a widow, and the two of them run off to Chicago to get married. Then they settle down into Kerry Patch in north St. Louis, have a baby (Edward R) and then our Edward D. is dead in 4 years of emphysema. Aged 37. His mother outlived him. Who knows--brick dust and smoke and underlying TB? All I know is there's a series of men in my family with weak lungs. So I don't smoke.

3. Edward Blake. He is born in Galway in 1828. Escapes Ireland and marries Bridget Kidney in 1856, one of the first couples married by the itinerant priest who started the diocese in Kansas City. They have three children. They move to East St. Louis in 1865 and are listed with 4 children. I think the 4th is a niece, Mollie (below). Things seem solid in East St. Louis, a railroad and industry town, and Edward runs a saloon. Then in 1886, he gets into an argument with William Vanderough, a patron in the bar, a man who works for the railroad, and he shoots him. Vanderough dies at the scene. After the murder, the case starts to look as though maybe Edward wasn't shooting in self defense. So, while he is under investigation, he and a friend meet at the bar. He pours the friend a drink, and himself. Then he adds Rough On Rats, a popular rat poison, to his own. A slow death, he dies in a St. Louis hospital with time to confess his sins to a priest, thereby allowing a burial in a Catholic cemetery.

4. Mollie Toohey, child of Mathew Toohey and some woman who died in a cholera epidemic with him. The Tooheys, from Galway like the Blakes (which makes me scratch my head about the whole mess), may or may not be related to Bridget Kidney--she claims Mathew's mother as her mother, but she also claims Mary Dwyne as her mother. Mollie, either way, escaped cholera and came to live with her aunt and uncle, Bridget and Edward. I can only hope it was ok for her as time went on. She married a non-Catholic and lived in Granite City after marriage. Had a son. Her aunt/mother/whoever, Bridget (below) lived with her until she died. Mollie was first generation American. All that death right behind her.

5. Bridget Kidney the Liar. Born in County Cork, fled Ireland and settled in Kansas City with her two sisters, Catherine and Ellen. Possibly the daughter of Mary Dwyne, below. Or...not? Dwyne and Kidney are bastardizations of each other. Mother of three children: Mary, Richard, Edward. The Catholic diocese has records of Mary's birth but not her death; Richard and Edward live with Ellen and her husband Pat Cronin until adulthood while Bridget leaves for East St. Louis with her husband, Edward Blake (above). Later claims to be the daughter of Eleanora Houlihan Toohey. Takes in her niece Mollie Toohey and later changes her name to Blake and poses as her mother in church records.  All I can assume is that life was hard. Brutal and hard. And you grabbed on to anyone you could and held on tight.

6. John Aiken, born 1808 in Balleymena, County Antrim. Emigrated to Pennsylvania, married an American named Sarah Gibson. Had a mess o' kids. Moved in with his son John in St. Louis before he died, but they buried him in Pennsylvania. His ancestors are buried in a cemetery from which you can nearly see Scotland, it's so far north.

7. Sarah Cody, born 1835, most likely in County Kilkenny. She married James, above, when she was just about 15 years old. Keep in mind, though, that all my Irish are liars. She and James had a bunch of little Donnellys, one of whom, William, moved to DeSoto, Missouri. He would have been there during the big railroad strike that brought Fr. O'Leary to the forefront of the Catholic labor movement. I need to learn more.

8. Richard Blake. The other son of Bridget and Edward. Older than Ned, his brother who goes on to marry Jennie Dawes and become a bricklayer in St. Louis, he's listed as a teamster living in that settlement of houses with his aunts and uncles in Kansas City. And then...he disappears. No death record. No further mention after that. Still searching. My aunt mentioned something about our Kansas City relatives, how one of them was a horse thief. I said, still searching.

9. Mary Dwyne. Or Mary Dwyer. Or Mary Duane. Or Mary O'Dwyre. Who knows. She lives with the Cronins on Pacific and Troost, in Kansas City, this enclave of Cronins and Blakes and all of them, I can only imagine, exhausted and poor. In 1860 she's with Bridget and Edward, listed as "living with her daughter" but then later she's living with Ellen and Pat Cronin, along with their kids and Bridget and Edward's two sons. I wonder if she was a good grandmother. Somehow I doubt it. And no one could read.

10."Mrs. Blake's Mother". The anonymous woman who dies of cholera in East St. Louis in 1873. The only record I have of her death is that quote. It's a church record, written by the priest who records it all, day after day during that epidemic. At the top of the page is the word "cholera" and then a line drawn down a column. She doesn't get a first name. Or a last name, which would have been useful. Just Mrs. Blake's Mother. How exhausted he must have been.

1 comment:

  1. I have a lot of Irish ancestors. But none I know enough about to write about. I'm thinking about doing some research. Except that there are so many other things I have to spend time doing first.